The people, places and stories of our local boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark have always been deeply embedded in what the Young Vic does and who we are.
Thanks to a significant Arts For Everyone grant, a specialist and dedicated department was established in 1997 to ensure that those ideals became woven into the fabric of our building. The work of the Teaching, Participation and Research (TPR) department enabled us to build on existing work with our local schools and community, and set out long-term plans to make this work the beating heart of the organisation. The journey from TPR to Taking Part has been full of exciting, fun and innovative work that reflects the people and stories of Southwark and Lambeth.
This timeline charts that journey, celebrating all the participants, artists, Young Vic staff, community partners, schools and audience members that have travelled with us over 25 years of creating, exploring and Taking Part in our community. We invite you to immerse yourself in the world of Teaching Participation and Research, Two Boroughs and Neighbourhood Theatre. Come and journey through our 25-year history to learn about community shows, Parallel Productions and our lasting relationships with local schools. Hear from those that took part, leaving their mark on the Young Vic and shaping our future.
This timeline was created as a legacy of the Twenty Thrive Exhibition. The exhibition was curated by a brilliant team of artists and young people, who scoured the archives, looked at photographs, read scripts, watched videos and spoke to people in order to tell the story of Taking Part. The story is a rich one, full of people, places and ideas.
To find out how you could get involved with future Taking Part opportunities at the Young Vic, email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are under 25, and email@example.com if you are over 25, or visit the Taking Part website here.
1992 - 1996
Letters would be sent to local schools and colleges letting them know about the activities we were running for children and young people. This included our Funded Ticket Scheme, which still runs today.
The Young People’s Theatre and Education Unit paved the way for the Teaching Participation and Research department.
1997 - 2001
The Arts For Everyone Award provided us with the resources we needed to really establish our creative engagement work.
Grimm Tales and More Grimm Tales was the production that launched the Teaching Participation and Research department that later became Taking Part.
It was a bold piece of programming at a time when the Disney-fied versions of these stories were prominent and work for families did not have the respect it so richly deserves. The show was elemental, dark, quite violent but also theatrically joyous. Primary school children were involved throughout the creative process, and their imaginations helped to make the show what it was. It began a 10-year period of the Young Vic’s reputation of creating the most imaginative, unique shows at Christmas that appealed to adults and young people alike.
Diverse Voices was our first ever Schools Theatre Festival. The project was so successful that we continued to run Schools Theatre Festivals right up until the late 2000s.
The Two Boroughs Project was established in 2000. Supported by the Eranda Foundation, this important initiative provided free access to all our performances and participatory activities for residents of Lambeth and Southwark, with a particular focus on first time theatregoers. Over time, The Two Boroughs Project evolved to become what is now Neighbourhood Theatre.
2002 - 2006
The Participation strand of work provided local young people with opportunities to learn more about theatre, develop creative skills and gain insight into the shows on our stages. It continues to do so to this today.
Between 2003 and 2004 we gave away over 4000 free theatre tickets to students across London as part of our Teaching strand of work. Our Funded Ticket Scheme still exists today, allowing Southwark and Lambeth residents to see Young Vic shows for free.
Our relationships with schools are long-lasting, as we can see from the quote from a teacher at Dunraven School on this report – we are still proudly collaborating with Dunraven today on our INNOVATE project!
From 2004-2006, the Young Vic went on ‘Walkabout' whilst the building closed for a major refurbishment.
During this time, the Young Vic co-produced 22 shows over 22 months with 20 companies across the UK and internationally, before returning to a redesigned theatre.
KEY FACTS AND FIGURES
- Over 3440 young people took part in workshops and projects. The majority were aged between 7-20 years from Southwark and Lambeth.
- 364 free opportunities were provided for teachers. These included free tickets, professional development workshops and access to theatre professionals.
- 5633 residents took advantage of free tickets and other activities provided through the Two Boroughs Project.
- 7534 young people independently or through school, saw a performance for free on our funded ticket scheme, many experiencing live theatre for the first time.
- 314 schools and organisations collaborated with the Young Vic during the course of the year
- 197 schools and colleges benefitted from funded tickets.
Tobias and the Angel was a community opera which brought together a creative team, 12 professional performers and 140 local people - from primary school children to spritely 83-year-olds.
It was written by David Lan (former Artistic Director of the Young Vic) and composed by Jonathan Dove. The story is based on an old Jewish biblical story from The Book of Tobit.
When we moved out of the old building to go on “Walkabout”, Tobias and the Angel was the first show we made in St Johns Church in Waterloo. Two years later when the new theatre was ready, it felt completely right that Tobias and the Angel returned to be the first production back on the Main Stage. Everyone knew that we absolutely had to open the theatre with a community show because local people are the heartbeat of this building.
2007 - 2011
This annual report mentions Taking Part’s 2007 Parallel Production of The Brother’s Size by Tarell Alvin McCraney.
Parallel Productions were a hugely important and celebrated strand of Taking Part activity from the early 2000s right through to 2020. The productions provided regular opportunities for young people to connect deeply with a play the theatre produced, creating their own version which celebrated and platformed the diversity of talent across Lambeth and Southwark.
The work produced in the main house of the Young Vic and that of Taking Part has always worked in conversation, with each one informing and supporting the other. Inviting local young people and residents to watch Young Vic shows and create their own work in response to key themes and ideas within the shows became central to Taking Part’s work. This work still exists today through Neighbourhood Play, a 55+ multi-disciplinary group who develop creative responses to main house Young Vic productions
Led by 3 Brazilian professionals and a cast of 84 residents recruited from Lambeth and Southwark and a team of 18 makers, FESTA! was a community production and a huge celebration that took over The Cut for a day.
The production was a collaboration with British-based company People's Palace Projects and Brazilian theatre artists from Spectaculu, the theatre arts school established by Gringo Cardia, the designer of Young Vic mainstage show Amazônia.
FESTA! was an opportunity for us to engage creatively with 100 members of the local community and was open to anyone from Lambeth and Southwark aged 14 upwards.
Over the course of three intensive weeks, participants were directed by a professional Brazilian theatre director, working alongside a core of professional Brazilian and UK based actors to develop Brazilian performance skills for two performances in August.
The Cut, the street outside the theatre was closed off and for one afternoon and evening, FESTA! spilled out of the theatre and onto The Cut as performers joined audience members in a celebration of Brazilian music, food, drink and dance.
This show used Hans Christian Anderson's The Nightingale as a starting point. The Taking Part team knew that fairy tales are a great place to start for a devising process. Their storylines are simple and strong, their characters archetypal, and their themes universal and full of power and truth. But best of all, they can be modernised, transplanted and re-written; scenes can be extended, added or distilled; characters can be adjusted, multiplied, made up. The group devising the performance can really own the story and find their way to tell it afresh. Taking Part's version of The Nightingale was devised by students from SEN schools across Lambeth and Southwark, contemporary dancer Ming-Hei Wong and composer Harry Blake.
Fly From Here was inspired by My Dad’s a Birdman by David Almond. The artists involved worked with 6 groups of young people from Special Educational Needs schools across Southwark and Lambeth to devise this multi-sensory and interactive show. The show took the audience on a journey, seen through the eyes of one central character; a man who is unhappy in London. In the show, each group of young people took the man to a new place, flying together to discover if the new place is better. Each time the man is cheered up – but is still searching for something else. At the end returns to London – with all the students – to discover that what he was looking for was here all along. The show focused on the idea that nothing is as good as home, and that we all have a place that we can feel safe and belong to. Fly From Here was Directed by Rachel Bagshaw and Abigail Graham, composed by Eilidh DeBonnaire and designed by Paul Burgess.
Taking Part's Schools’ Theatre Festival 2011 saw young people working on an exciting interpretation of Hamlet by William Shakespeare. The students worked with a professional creative team and performed at the Young Vic Theatre. Their version of Hamlet was based on a stripped back film noir-esque thriller - Hamlet as a revenge thriller, lots of shadows and whispers, creating a dark world of suspicion, doubt and fear. Something was definitely rotten in the state of Denmark.
Our Annual School’s Theatre Festival served a very important role in local young people getting to know the Young Vic and performing on our stages.
2012 - 2016
A collaboration with Milk Presents, Tangled Feet and Look Right, Look Left, The Strongest Person in the World is the One Who Stands Alone was a response to the Young Vic’s production of Public Enemy, the tale of one man’s brave struggle in order to do the right thing and speak the truth against corruption. Three local Special Educational Needs schools worked with three exciting theatre companies to create individual responses to Public Enemy. These students came together to share a story that travels through time, underwater and around their own imaginations. Guided by the practitioners, this was their exploration of what it means to be part of a group or to stand alone.
"We’ve escaped from our teachers and are on a worldwide adventure. Join us as we reach the arctic, the top of the world…"
In 2014 visual storytellers Parrot in the Tank developed a multi-sensory expedition with two local centres for children with Autism. Working with sound, light and music the children worked together to guide the company towards the moments the audience saw in Base Camp.
The Sound of Yellow was a parallel production to Peter Brook and Marie-Hélène Estienne'sValley of Astonishment. It explored the neurological phenomenon synaesthesia. Directors Matthew Xia and Emma Baggott worked with participants in rehabilitation to make the show. The process included music from the Young Vic community choir Open Voices and spoken word workshops led by writer and performance poet Francesca Beard.
2014 saw the launch of the Young Vic’s Young Associates scheme. It demonstrated the organisation’s commitment to facilitating meaningful ways into work in the creative and cultural industries for young people in our local boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark. The Young Associate scheme, which is still still running strong, involves us employing a group of local people aged 18-25 to work across our organisation each year.
The Brolly Project was a collaboration between Taking Part and Look Left Look Right and created as a response to the main house production of Measure for Measure, wherein themes of sex, morality, and judgment loom large.
We worked closely with various outreach projects throughout London to find a company of performers whom have, or did work in the sex industry at the time. The aim was to make an original performance created by the company, formed by whatever they chose to share. The piece was written by Molly Taylor and directed by Mimi Poskitt.
Turning A Little Further was a Two Boroughs Project which responded to the Young Vic’s production of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days. Working with local women who were all unpaid carers, director Laura Keefe, movement director Coral Messam and writer Francesca Beard created a piece exploring freedom and escape.
The Cut Cart was inspired by the history of the Young Vic and its origins as a butcher's shop. Taking Part, writer Anna Beecher and local participants set out to collect stories from people who lived, or had lived, in the local area. The group met people who had bought their meat from the hooks currently in the foyer, and those who saw a performance given by Jim Dale in 1971. They also wanted to honour the list of people who were killed in the bomb shelter which is now the site of the main house, on the 17th April 1941, by remembering life as they may have known it.
2016 saw the launch of Taking Part’s Neighbourhood Theatre Company, which remains central to our work today. The company was established to enable us to develop our work with the people on our doorstep, and help us get as many people as possible involved, particularly if they are vulnerable and isolated. Neighbourhood Theatre members act as ambassadors, advocates and consultants on Taking Part’s work. They also attend events at the theatre and participate in projects throughout the year.
The Curtain was inspired by the Young Vic’s Main House production of Blue/Orange, Taking Part worked with members of our local community within Southwark and Lambeth who were unpaid carers, multilingual or had had strokes and suffered from aphasia to explore the play’s themes around communication and identity. The result was a devised piece, directed by Rachel Lincoln, designed by Alison Neighbour and written by Eve Leigh and the company. It is called The Curtain.
Working with three hearing impaired schools in London, Dr Orange/Dr Blue was a parallel production to Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange directed by Alex Byrne and Michael Judge. Following seven weeks of workshops with the schools, young people worked alongside NIE ensemble actors and performed at the Young Vic in July 2016.
Start Swimming was a parallel production, created in response to the main house production Why It's Kicking Off Everywhere. It was written by James Fritz and directed by Ola Ince. It explored themes of occupation, revolution and the future of our youth.
One step away from disaster, there’s only one instruction: start swimming.
Sing Before You Speak Again was an original show written by Deanna Roger, composed by Joseph Atkins and directed by Thomas Martin. Inspired by the main house production of Wings, Sing Before You Speak Again was developed through workshops with people living with neurological conditions such as aphasia, dementia or Parkinson’s, and was performed by a choir of local adults.
The Go Between was a Taking Part community show inspired by Isango Ensemble's A Man of Good Hope. The beautiful collaboration between director Anna Girvan, writer Archie Maddocks and participants who were homeless or had experienced homelessness in the past explored what home means to all of us. The Go Between also featured a photography exhibition by Jordan Lee, a photographer who spent 3 months with the company documenting the process from devising and rehearsals to the full production.
In its first incarnation, the Carnation For A Song project was as a community response to Sam Gold’s production of Fun Home. The company was made up of LGBQ Londoners, all aged 50+, who shared their stories to help build this moving musical experience. The show featured original songs and text directly inspired by their experiences. Stories ranged from being on the front line of the fight for cultural acceptance and equal rights, to present hopes for a more inclusive future. The characters grappled with the treacherous world of online dating, face up to the realities of ageing and reflect on whether they are truly seen by society. Written and directed by Megan Cronin, with music, lyrics and musical direction from Joseph Atkins.
The American Dream 2.0 was a community production written in response to the main house production of Death of A Salesman, written by Emma Dennis-Edwards and directed by Daniel Bailey. It was a politically charged dystopian play about hope, idealism and humanity.
The Jumper Factory was a Parallel Production inspired by Young Vic’s production of The Brothers Size. Created in collaboration with inmates at HMP Wandsworth and written by Luke Barnes, this intimate and powerful piece explored the stories of people behind bars and the resilience they need to face a world that moves without them. Originally performed by inmates at HMP Wandsworth, the production was then staged at the Young Vic by a cast of young men aged from 18 – 25, whose lives had all been affected in some way by the criminal justice system. The production also toured regionally and then to the Edinburgh Festival. The show was directed by Justin Audibert at HMP Wandsworth and by Josh Parr at the Young Vic.
2019 saw the launch of Neighbourhood Play, Taking Part’s movement project for people aged 55+. With a focus on joy, playfulness and self-expression, participants come together for a series of workshops to devise their own performance in response to a Young Vic production.
Me for the World was a new production made with, and performed by, young people from Roma and Irish Traveller communities across London. Written by Molly Taylor and directed by Ali Pidsley, Me for the World was a celebration of the identity, and the culture and traditions of these communities.
2020 – Lockdown
In March 2020 the world was brought to a stop by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our shows were called off, we all went home, and the theatre closed its doors. Taking Part however, carried on. We developed creative activities for our community members to do at home in the form of Write From Home, a self-guided writing project that people could take part in while confined to their homes. We worked with young people online to create digital scrapbooks and websites like Hear Us..., HOME 20 and Under My Barbie Duvet. Most ambitious of all was TWENTY TWENTY. You can read more about Under My Barbie Duvet and TWENTY TWENTY below.
Find out more about Taking Part’s activity during 2020 in this report written by Dr Helen Nicholson: Taking Part in a Pandemic
Written for Brixton's Baytree Centre and IRMO, and as a response to discussions of themes in the Young Vic production Nora: A Dolls House, Under My Barbie Duvet explored female agency, friendship and how we measure self-worth in a world under social media’s siege. Originally written as a piece of live theatre, the creative team combined online filming, stop-motion animation and original music to ingeniously reimagine the piece for a digital audience during a time of social distancing. Written by Annie Jenkins and directed by Caitriona Shoobridge and Matt Kay. With design and animation by Basia Bińkowska and sound design by Nwando Ebizie.
TWENTY TWENTY saw us working in partnership with three local community groups and TEA Films to create three short films. Originally conceived as three plays, Taking Part transformed the idea into three short films. Made under strict COVID safety guidelines, the project was an incredible feat and made space for people to come together and create in a time of real challenge and social isolation. The large creative team was made up of Writers Nessah Muthy, Jasmine Lee-Jones and Tolani Shoneye; Directors Audrey Sheffield, Milli Bhatia and Jade Lewis; Assistant Directors Ashen Gupta and Ben Quashie; Designer Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey; Sound Designer Xana and Movement Director Corinne Meredith.
In 2021 we launched Taking Part’s Young Leader’s programme, designed to give young people insight into leadership in the creative industries as well as understand and develop their own leadership skills. You can hear one of the Young Leaders discussing leadership with the Young Vic’s Artistic Director, Kwame Kwei-Armah in this episode of the Off Book Podcast.
2021 saw the launch of Taking Part’s radical two-year education programme INNOVATE. The project was designed to understand how the arts can enable students to engage, learn and thrive across all of their subjects. A collaboration between Young Vic Taking Part, Dunraven School, Southbank University Academy, a team of multi-disciplinary artists and an advisory panel of educational and cultural experts, INNOVATE is exploring the role that artists and arts organisations can play in teaching the curriculum.
Since 2018, Taking Part has toured professional shows to Lambeth and Southwark schools, women’s centres and other community venues where theatre is not usually performed under the YV:Unpacked project.
In 2021 we toured Love Reign. Written by Shereen Jasmin Phillips and directed by Stef O’Driscoll, the show was a love letter to friendships, how we begin them, how we honour them and how we preserve them against all odds. The show encapsulated the joyful expression of friendship delicately underscored by a live soulful house soundtrack. This was theatre you could vibe to.
Sundown Kiki brought the world of theatre and ballroom together through music, dance, walking, and partying. Created with and performed by Queer young artists from the Global Majority, directed by Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, with Creative Direction from Jay Jay Revlon and Sound Design by XANA, Sundown Kiki was a bold celebration of Queer South London in all its glory.
Sundown Kiki returned to the Young Vic in summer 2023 as Sundown Kiki Reloaded.
2022 was Taking Part’s 25th Birthday year. To celebrate, we programmed a series of shows, event and projects under the banner TP 25.
Communities of Resistance followed on from Taking Part production Sundown Kiki. The company worked with Jay Jay Revlon, Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu and Kemar Jewel to explore how art has historically been used as a collective space of political resistance. The project also connected Sundown Kiki to New York City, the birthplace of ballroom, and explored ballroom’s political heritage. This project was delivered in collaboration with the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York City.
The project concluded with a collaboration between the UK and US young artists in New York City in summer 2022, where they created a scratch performance around the theme of Communities of Resistance. This international group of young artists also marched together in the New York Pride Parade 2022.
Of The Cut saw the Learning, Participation and Neighbourhood Theatre strands come together to create a promenade performance piece which shone a light on the voices and stories of our community members. Of The Cut fused film, stage, sound, imagery and story together through the lens of magical realism. Taking Part collaborated with TEA Films to create this project. It was written by Yasmin Joseph, directed by Philip J Morris; Assistant Producer Jordi M. Carter, Trainee Assistant Director Déviniat Adedibu, with sound design by Nicola T. Chang and design by Natalie Pryce.
YV Unpacked was established in 2018 by Kwame Kwei-Armah, developed with the intention of reaching audiences who may find it more difficult to access theatre by taking professional work to them. I Wonder If was the fifth YV: Unpacked show, touring to community venues across Southwark and Lambeth. It fused dance, music and dialogue explore the complex beauty of human relationships. It was directed by Daniel Bailey and devised by the Company.
The Twenty Thrive Exhibition marked the end of our 25th Birthday year. Artists Myah Jeffers and QianEr Jin worked with a group of young curators and the Taking Part team to create an experiential exhibition that celebrated 25 years of creating, exploring and Taking Part in our community. In order to create the exhibition, the artists and young curators delved into our archive and interviewed former Taking Part staff and participants.
You can take a virtual tour of the exhibition here: